Don’t turn it on in here, please

Sep 12th, 2012 | By | Category: Personal Columns

John Creedon was this evening exhorting his listeners to tell everyone about his programme (Monday to Friday, 8.30-9.50 on RTE Radio 1). His name has probably appeared here more often than anyone outside the pages of the Bible, so further exhortations to tune in  (Monday to Friday, 8.30-9.50 on RTE Radio 1) are probably superfluous. If people are not already listening, then they are probably not the sort of people who are likely to do so.

The problem with radio listening is that there seem only certain places where it is considered appropriate. Driving the car, John Creedon is automatically present when the ignition key is turned during those hours; doing stuff in the kitchen, and his selection of music fills the room. But listening in other rooms is liable to prompt questions.

In the upstairs room that functions as a study and den in the deanery in Kilkenny, there are two settees and an armchair around a wood burning stove and large screen television; there seems a presumption that sitting in the room in the evenings means having the television turned on, even when working at a desk with one’s back turned to the screen.

Sitting one evening, the television viewing seemed more sterile than usual and instead of allowing it to talk to itself, I turned it off and turned on the wireless (wireless as in a wooden box with valves and a display panel that includes Hilversum, Athlone, the Home service, and the Light programme). Mr Creedon’s programme was on and his eclectic sequence of tunes provided congenial company as some piece of work was completed on the desktop.

The listening continued until the door opened and a voice inquired, ‘why are you listening to the radio?’ No-one would ask, ‘why are you watching the television?’ Why did it seem so strange that someone would sit in a room and listen to a radio programme? Must there be vision as well as sound, even when the visual broadcast is receiving no attention?

There are pictures of homes in the 1930s and 1940s of families gathered around the wireless facing the set, a behaviour that seems as odd as having a television turned on and one’s back turned on it. Why did one need to look in order to hear?

Few people seem to listen to the radio while sat at home in the evening, but why is this so? How did certain behaviours become associated with listening and viewing? How did the attitude develop that one should only do certain things in certain places?

A friend says he connects his iPhone to the Wifi in his house and listens to British jazz programmes broadcast on the Internet while lying in the bath: social protocols will presumably one day catch up even with him.

By the way, do listen to John Creedon, Monday to Friday, 8.30-9.50 on RTE Radio 1.

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  1. One of the advantages of a digital tv is that you can listen to the radio through it (as well as many other facilities if you have a smarter set than mine), I used to be able to ‘watch’ the television and read the paper, poor eyesight has put pay to that (all that taking glasses off and on). The solution is the radio! Sometimes it is relaxing just to go with the flow and just watch the tv.

  2. I remember our old wireless was a Bush set, complete with large dial and don’t forget Radio Luxembourg!
    I have to agree though, I like John Creedon. Have you come across his alter ego “Terence” from the 1980’s? Google “John Creedon Terence” and then the song “When I was just a little boy” for a different take on John.

  3. I always felt there was something not quite decent about listening to Radio Luxembourg on a wireless – it always seemed more appropriate for a tinny transistor!

  4. I can remember listening to the wireless at home when I was a child, Saturday Night Theatre, The Archers and Pick of the Pops come to mind ….Now I listen to RTE2 on my i-phone while I’m cooking tea !

  5. My Nan used to have a wireless on a shelf in her kitchen. The news used to be listened to with great solemnity every dinner time.

  6. I go two ways with radio – my brother in London has my grandparents’ old Murphy Radio from the early 1950s and he got it restored to perfect working order. Medium and Long wave radio sounds great on it and he can coax RTE Radio 1 onto it effectively.

    Here in Kildare, I hooked up a spare Sky box with its own feed from the dish to my stereo so I can get my BBC Radio fix in crystal clear sound, fantastic for the Proms and the cricket. I enjoy television but my split between TV watching and radio listening is about 60:40 in favour of the radio. With RTE Radio I avoid the misery of Morning Ireland etc but do enjoy its music programmes, Mr Creedon in particular.

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